The History of Austin Oaks Church

Our Heritage

Swedish evangelical free church, 17th and colorado, 1925

Swedish evangelical free church, 17th and colorado, 1925

Longing for a more vital walk with God than they experienced in their homeland, about 10,000 Swedish immigrants settled in Central Texas in the 1880s. Upon arriving, these immigrants established what were called Evangelical Free Churches, two of which began in the surrounding Austin area. In 1923, these rural churches joined with other Swedish immigrants and formed the Swedish Evangelical Free Church of Austin. Using material from the first 2 churches, the first building at 17th and Colorado opened its doors in 1925.

 Outreach to the Americans

First evangelical free church of austin, 45th and red river, circa 1962

First evangelical free church of austin, 45th and red river, circa 1962

The church was a vibrant place of worship for the Swedes. But seeing the need to reach out to their surrounding community, the church voted in the late 1930s to begin holding the service in English and eventually changed their name to First Evangelical Free Church of Austin (FEFC).

 In 1962, the State of Texas acquired the Colorado Street property to build a parking garage and FEFC relocated to 45th and Red River streets. A plaque commemorating the former home of the Swedish Evangelical Free church can still be found today on 17th and Colorado. 

Austin Oaks Today

Austin oaks church, 2015

Austin oaks church, 2015

During the late 1900s, the church membership reflected an aging and shrinking congregation. This faithful remnant, in response to God’s leading, began searching for a young pastor. In 1990 they courageously hired as Senior Pastor, Rob Harrell.

The following decade, with an intentional focus on being a disciple making church, FEFC experienced God’s blessing and grew spiritually and numerically. This growth prompted a need to relocate and on Palm Sunday, 2002, FEFC began worshiping in its new home on Monterey Oaks Blvd in Southwest Austin.

New Church sign, 2015

New Church sign, 2015

During this same period, political influence began tarnishing the term “evangelical.” The stigma that began to be associated with that word extended to FEFC and slowly became a stumbling block for the church’s outreach efforts and congregation. As a result, after an extended time of prayer, the members voted in August of 2014 to rename the church Austin Oaks Church, just as the congregants had done 60+ years earlier. Today, God is continuing to bless His church as disciple making and transforming the world continues to be the heart of His people at Austin Oaks.